JUPITER, Fla. — Where the Roger Dean Stadium main field looked like this all day on Friday:
Spring Training is an interesting time for many reasons. One of those is because veterans are occasionally exposed to Minor League treatment, like the long bus rides across the state for games instead of the first-class, chartered flights.
Friday was the perfect example.
Veterans always give their best effort to try and avoid making long trips like the 2 1/2-hour drive the Red Sox made from Fort Myers to Jupiter early this morning — only to find out about a half-hour after they arrived that their game against the Cardinals was postponed.
The only everyday player in the Red Sox’s lineup on this day was Kevin Youkilis, who called his skipper at 7:30 a.m. ET to see if he should even make the drive (Jason Varitek and Adrian Beltre had already been held out because of the estimated conditions).
Here’s what Terry Francona said about that situation:
“I was dying to say, ‘Don’t go,'” Francona said. “But on the odd chance that we play, it would’ve been a [bad] thing for me. I told him he can have first choice of sandwiches.”
Remember that thing you always hear about baseball being a business?
Well, this was supposed to be Boston’s last trip to Jupiter of the spring — they’ll now make it up as part of a split-squad doubleheader on March 22 — and it was a sellout crowd here. So despite how bad the conditions looked going in, the Red Sox pretty much owed to the fans (and the Cardinals, and everybody else who profits from Roger Dean Stadium ticket sales) to make the trip.
And with that type of excitement, there had to be at least one household name suiting up for the Red Sox. In this case, that was Youk.
“If I was the Cardinals, and I had a sellout, I would want to play the game, too,” Francona said. “I don’t blame them. If they want to pay for our dinner last night, we’ll accept it. But, you know what, what are you going to do?”
Nothing, really. Because even in the innocence of Spring Training, there is always a business side to professional baseball.
Check out more on the recent string of Spring Training rainouts (there’s been a lot of them) here
Now, on a pure baseball note …
What I think makes the Red Sox so special is the fact that they’re a big-market team that has the farm system and scouting of a small-market organization. Homegrown guys like Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonathan Papelbon and Jon Lester are huge elements to their team. And more are on the way.
Two of those are right-hander Daniel Bard and outfielder Ryan Kalish. Here’s what Francona had to say about each of their progressions thus far …
* On Bard (1 ER, 3 IP this spring) thus far: Very good. … When he’s throwing his changeup, he’s actually throwing a pretty good one. … He’s throwing his fastball down in the zone; it’s easy velocity. I think he’s gotten to where he got here [to the big leagues], and now he’s going to try to go farther instead of just being happy with getting to the big leagues. I think he realizes that there’s more in there.
* On Kalish (3-for-10 this spring) and his approach: Very good. It’s very good. He’s going to be fun to watch, the progression. He’s gotten a lot faster. All the kinds of things that people said about Trot [Nixon] — they called him “Dirt Dog” or something — he’s got a lot of those qualities. However good he’s going to be, he’s not going to get short-changed. He’s going to get a lot out of that potential.”
— Alden Gonzalez